Stenson: Now for the majors

Henrik Stenson is hoping the biggest victory of his career at Sawgrass can quickly translate into success at the majors.

Players Championship winner Henrik Stenson is hoping the biggest victory of his career can quickly translate into success at the majors.
The Swede turned in a flawless six-under-par final round 66 at TPC Sawgrass last night as the rest of the field faltered to beat Ian Poulter of England by four strokes and win the unofficial fifth major.
Coming after a year in which he scored his first top-10 finishes at the majors with a tie for third place at The Open at Birkdale and tie for fourth at the US PGA Championship at Oakland Hills, Stenson feels victory in Florida can be the springboard to further success in golf’s biggest tournaments.
“Last year was a great year. I felt in the past it was a little bit annoying not to have a top-10 in a major and so on, and I definitely got to put an end to that question with a third at the Open,” Stenson said
“And then the one I really felt like I had a good chance to win going into the last day was the PGA Championship. I felt like I was one out of four or five guys that had a good chance to win it. It obviously didn’t happen that day, but it’s all about putting yourself in that position.
“With the experience today, I know even better that I hope I can pull it off when it matters.”
The Swede had been one of six men also including world number one Tiger Woods and England’s Ian Poulter to start the day in a tie for second place at six-under-par with overnight leader Alex Cejka of Germany five shots in front five shots clear.
Yet as Cejka imploded and Woods faltered in the final group of the day, ice cool Stenson closing six-under-par 66 helped him become only the third European winner in the tournament’s 36-year history, following Sandy Lyle in 1987 and Sergio Garcia 12 months ago.
“It’s obviously a great feeling to have won this championship and it’s a golf course I really enjoy playing,” Stenson said.
“I’ve always liked to play it, it suits my eye, suits my game, and I just handled myself very well throughout these four days, putted well and given myself plenty of chances and stayed very level-headed.
“I just managed my game very well. I knew it would be tough.
“Before we started yesterday I knew the greens were going to be even firmer and it was going to be hard to get close to the pins, and the course kind of got back at me yesterday on 16, 17.
“But I still felt like I was in good spirits and told whoever was out there after the round yesterday that I was going to go out there and finish strong today and I did.”
Poulter finished second ahead of Americans John Mallinger and Kevin Na after shipping just one bogey in a final round 70 that took him to eight under and his second top-five finish in a row although he is still in search of his maiden PGA Tour victory.
“I played solid, it was a shame I got a bad bounce on four and made bogey, but the rest of the day I played solid all day and I’m just happy with the way I played,” Poulter said.
England’s Brian Davis gave the European contingent more cheer as he took a share of fifth place on six under alongside Americans Jim Furyk and Ben Crane with Woods alone in eighth at five under following a 73, his first top-10 finish in the event since he won it in 2001.
Aaron Baddeley of Australia completed an amazing turnaround following a 76 on Saturday that left him in last place with a final round 66 earning him a tie for ninth alongside Vijay Singh and Cejka, who closed with a 79.
“I think I actually played better than my score showed today,” Cejka said. “I just didn’t make any putts, one birdie only, but the ball-striking wasn’t as good as the last couple of days.”